What is the environment that conditions and shapes you the most when you’re in school or working? I’ll give you a hint: It isn’t the home!
Our environments determine our mental health.
They have ways of molding and shaping us, especially during our formative years. For example, a child who grows up in an abusive environment is, more than likely, going to either grow up to be an abusive adult. Or worse, they will grow up to be weakened and powerless. Remember that a person’s formative years (childhood) is the most impressionable and it determines their future!
Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. There are a few kids who develop a strong sense of self, either through dogged determination or an outside mentor. Those are the kids who make it out and create successful lives from themselves. However, most do not, and it’s sad.
You have three types of environments:
- Nourishing Environment (Very Healthy)
- Neutral Environment (Somewhat Healthy)
- Toxic Environment (Unhealthy)
Understand that the environment you spend most of your day in, will the one that will likely condition you. And if you spend most of your day-to-day life in a bullying environment, your mental health will suffer!
For example, a certain school kid lives in a loving and healthy home. But his classmates at school bully him mercilessly and without fail.
Now, let’s do the math:
A child or teen who is growing must have around 10 hours of sleep per day. So, subtract 10 hours for 24 hours and you’re left with a total of 14 waking hours. The average young student then spends about 8 hours per day in school. Subtract 8 hours from 14 waking hours and you have only six waking hours away from school.
Then we must figure in school bus time, or commuting time, which, for the average schoolkid, is 30 minutes to 1 hour, one way. Therefore, that’s 1-2 hours roundtrip (Keep in mind that most kids who are bullied at school are also bullied on the school bus).
Subtract that from 6 waking hours and the schoolkid in this scenario has only 4-5 waking hours at home in her loving and nourishing environment.
24 Hours (One Day)
-10 hours (Sleep)
-8 hours (School)
-1 or 2 hours (School bus)
= only 4 to 5 hours awake at home
So, that bullied child, although living in a loving and nourishing home environment, spends twice as many waking hours in a toxic school environment. Therefore, the bullying he suffers at school is likely to nullify the love and acceptance he gets at home. And he will be conditioned either to hate himself, or not to think much of himself. Because he spends more time with his bullying peers than he spends with his loving and accepting family, he’s still more likely to have self-esteem issues and lack confidence.
Now, do you see how this works?
Even sadder, the self-esteem and confidence of kids who are bullied at school and abused or neglected at home will take an even bigger hit to their mental health! Why? Because they never get a reprieve from bullying, as abuse at home is a form of bullying in and of itself.
In conclusion, how a student is treated at school has a huge impact on their mental health. It doesn’t matter how loving and nurturing their home life is. Granted, having a positive home life certainly helps, the bullying a child or teen suffers at school will likely negate any love and acceptance she receives at home.
So, how do we reverse the damage school bullies have caused a child?
We simple create opportunities for the child to make friends outside of their school. This will create more positive social experiences for them. It will help to create a more even balance between the bullying and negativity they suffer and the friendships and positivity they enjoy. Even better, it might even tip the scales and create more positive experiences and social interactions than negative!
Therefore, the resulting rise in positive experiences and interactions outside the school environment will serve to buffer person’s self-esteem and mental health from the blows of negativity they get at school.
You can help the youngster create these positive connections and experiences by sending them to summer camp. Also, you can do it by enrolling them in a martial arts class or attending neighborhood family get-togethers where there are other kids present. Attending church and church functions is another great idea.
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There are many, many opportunities available for the seizing! So, go for it! Give your bullied child these wonderful experiences! They will turn into awesome memories that will last a lifetime!
With knowledge comes empowerment!